What’s the difference between proposals for SMB & Enterprise (and how to win them?)

Posted by Aazar Ali Shad | July 23, 2019 | proposals,
Enterprise proposal VS SMB proposal

So you already have clients in the SMB market and now you want to move to sell to Enterprises or vice versa? That’s a great sign that your company is going in a great way, but there are a lot of things you will need to learn how to deal with. You will need to know how their sales processes are looking and how to craft great sales proposals that will suit their needs. I’ll be giving a detailed overview of the following topics:

    • What’s the difference between SMBs and Enterprise Sales Processes?
    • Why should you care?
    • What’s the difference between SMBs and Enterprise proposals? 
  • Secrets to creating a winning proposal for both SMBs and Enterprises.

Before showing the right kind of proposals to the right clients, let’s understand the differences between the SMBs and Enterprise sales processes.

How the Sales Process for SMBs looks like?

SMB sales challenges are usually related to growth, scalability, and profitability. They want to grow to a scalable & enduring business. However, their priorities are immediate results. They want to increase ROI and reduce time to value. SMB buyers’ journey is shorter. It could range from 2-90 days, and sales reps are making quick decisions. In SMBs, the buyer journey is mainly handled by the CEOs directly since they approve budgets and create strategies.SMB companies want the vendor to articulate the problem and solution. Moreover, SMB sales mostly work well with inbound via search, forums, referrals, and affiliate marketing.

How the Sales Process for Enterprise looks like?

Enterprise sales are very department-specific. Enterprise sales usually look for cost savings, growth opportunities, and budget allocations. They also want great results in the endHowever, the sales cycles are longer and move slowly like a Turtle walk. The sales cycles are 6-12 months or more. Enterprise companies look for a solution that can help them to reach their long-term strategic needs and goals.   They have a straightforward process and budget allocations to their needs, and they have to sometimes spend it for their coming years’ plans. You need to meet several stakeholders inside the company that involves the champion (one who likes your services), the user (one who wants your services), the buyer (the one who has financial power), the security (if your solution is technical) and the purchasing departments. You have to satisfy the needs and priorities of all these stakeholders. A great way to actually sell to the enterprise is a combination of inbound and outbound sales, as well by using different sales enablement tools like Prospero that will help you to sell better. You also need to be aware of budget approval and allocation dates so that you can swoop in and be on the top of their minds for the decisions. Enterprise buyers are requesting detailed proposals and most of the time they ask for RFPs (request for proposal) that are their own templates to comply with. This takes us to the next step on why you should care.

Why you should care?

As mentioned above, the sales processes are different. You want to show the relevant details of the proposal based on the requirements, needs, urgency, and results. If you want to get a small & medium business proposal to approve soon, show project results and pricing in your proposalsIf you want to get Enterprise business proposals approved (regardless of the time), try to address the needs of each department such as users & buyers, security, finance, purchasing, and sometimes even HRThis will get you ahead of the line. 

What’s the difference between SMB and Enterprise proposals? 

By now, you understood the differences between SMB and Enterprise sales processes. So, what’s the difference between the sales proposals? Let’s assume that you already interacted and researched the potential client’s requirements. The small & medium size business usually care about the following:

    • What does the project involve? What kind of services?
    • What are you going to do?
    • How long will it take? (Timelines/Roadmap)
    • What will be the result? How it will benefit them?
    • How soon we will get the results?
    • How much will it cost us? (Quote)
    • Who have you worked with on a similar project previously? (References)
    • Do you have a reference from those customers? (Social Proof)
    • Validity date
  • Signature

 You’ll be able to land the deal if you answer the questions above with some creativity and good promises that you can fulfill. Whereas in Enterprise deals, you’d have to answer all of the above and more such as: 

    • Executive summary
    • Mission and goals for the project
    • Details about your company and past achievements (Why you?)
    • Scope of the services
    • Case studies with goals, solution, measurable results and testimonials
    • References to verify it happened
    • Details regarding the teammates who’d be involved
    • Service Level Agreements (SLA), contracts & confidentiality agreements 
    • Security details
  • In appendix:
      • Presentations that you’ve shared previously in the meetings
      • Fact sheets about your business
    • Graphs, charts and any other vital information that can aid your proposal

Secrets to creating a winning proposal for SMB and Enterprise alike

Let’s assume that you have the main requirements from SMB and Enterprise. How can you create a winning proposal? In the age of widespread information via Google, you will not be the only company that’s sharing a proposal. A smart buyer will do detailed research and at least reach out to a couple of vendors for the proposal. Hence, to win a proposal you have to be smart, creative, persistent, and thorough.

Secret # 1 – Show it, Win It

Regardless you’re selling a proposal in logo design, brand design, video production, or any other services. Show it to win. Your best bet to win a proposal is through your past work. For example, you can show your work portfolio instead of showing your portfolio to just sites like Dribble and others. Put this in your portfolio like above.

Secret # 2 Add Video Personalization

Use personalized video to introduce yourself and services through videos. It adds a lot more credibility and gives trust in front of all decision-makers. Each client is important, make a video, and introduce yourself. You can also share the benefits of your services and past achievements. Make it personal and contextual based on the client.

Secret # 3 – Always stay on top of your clients’ movements

Always stay abreast of clients’ proposal movements so that you can follow up with the right message if they need any help. The more you’re able to track the movement, the better you’ll be able to know the interest from the client’s side.

Secret # 4 – Make them go WOW with hyper-personalization

Whenever you’re sending a proposal. Make it about the clients. What does this mean in reality? You could make it hyper-personalized by:

    • Sharing case studies from their industries
    • Sharing case studies from a similar location
    • Add fonts, pictures, and examples with the one they like to associate with their brand
    • Address questions in the appendix that could come anyway in the future
  • If possible add a video-case study & reviews from a similar client-based

Secret # 5 – Always get the requirements right 

Most proposals have almost everything but they fail to get the complete client requirements. Always ask the following questions during the client meetings:

    • What problem is the client trying to solve? What pains are they experiencing? How big the pain?
    • What’s their budget? 
    • What are their goals and expectations? What will make them happy?
    • How does the perfect end result look like?
  • Who will be involved in decision making?

Secret # 6 – Use copywriting principles to persuade the clients 

Gone are the days when proposal writing was boring. Now, copywriting art has to be used to persuade the reader and entice them to read the entire proposal. Learn some copywriting formulas to add a bit of soul & character in your proposal writing. Use the AIDCA rule to let the reader do an action. What’s the AIDCA rule? Attention: Get their attention by a great opener. Interest: Entice them to read the proposal with interesting facts. Desire: Show them before and after the situation to get their desire. Conviction: Add social proof and testimonials to make them believe. Action: Make them a sign, ask a question, or do the next step.

Secret # 7 – Use power guarantee offers with risk reduction to stop questioning

What is a power guarantee offer? Power guarantee is a no-brainer offer such as 30 days money-back guarantee.If you really believe in your services, you can always make an offer that reduces the risk from the client’s side. It’s mostly based on the performance of your own agency or work. It involves a guarantee if things go south, the client can always ask for a refund. This will get you ahead in the game. 


In the article above, we’ve gone through the different sales processes of SMB and Enterprise companies, and how that influences proposals. We’ve shared 7 secrets on how to create a winning proposal such as:

    • Show your work
    • Add video personalization
    • Add tracking to understand engagement
    • Use hyper-personalization tactics
    • Always get the requirements right
    • Use copywriting techniques to make proposals interesting
  • User power guarantees to close 

Hope this helps, or do you wanna share your learnings? Share it in the comments below. 


Aazar Ali Shad - He's a growth hacker, content marketer, and SEO-specialist. He loves SaaS and advising people on AAARR model.